Event Detail


The Great Climbs

Sir Chris Bonington
Monday, 3 Oct 2011
Lecture theatre, 2/F Olympic House, I Stadium Path, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay
One of our most popular and engaging lecturers returns to talk on "The Great Climbs", an exhilarating evening of high altitude memories.

Drinks from 6.30 pm , lecture starts at 7.30 pm

HK$150 RGS HK Members and HK$200 Nonmembers

On this occasion, Sir Chris lectures on "The Great Climbs ", as always accompanied by stunning mountain photography.

Sir Chris started climbing at the age of sixteen and reached a high standard of rock climbing while in his teens. He became an instructor at the Army Outward Bound School and it was during this period that he started climbing in the Alps, making the first British ascent of the South West Pillar of the Drus. However, exactly 50 years ago, Sir Chris resigned his commission with the Royal Tank Regiment to join an expedition to Nuptse, the then unclimbed third peak of Everest.

Sir Chris left the UK in February 1961 by sea to Bombay, being the least expensive way of getting transporting the expedition baggage. The rest of the team travelled overland in two "Hillman Huskies " that had been loaned to the expedition. The team met up in Kathmandu and from there started its approach march since at that time the only road in Nepal was the one from the frontier to Kathmandu. There were no trekkers, no tourist lodges and it took the team three weeks to reach its base camp below Nuptse.

The team was very small, just eight climbers and six high altitude Sherpa's. It was decided that the only feasible route up this 25,850 foot mountain was by it's huge South Face, at the time unclimbed and the hardest known route in the Himalaya. Climbing it proved to be a long drawn out and very exacting siege, which stretched the team to the limit, but with the reward of a famous first ascent.

Sir Chris then joined the car team for an exciting drive back to Europe where he had arranged to meet with other climbers in Chamonix. From there, following several attempts, they made the first British ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, at the time one of the most challenging and dangerous North Face climbs in the Alps.

Then, with practically no money left, the team returned to Chamonix, planning to attempt the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc. This was rated as the last great problem in the Alps, even now considered one of the great classic climbs of the Mont Blanc Massif, on which several strong Continental teams had tried and failed. The Bonington team won, in what unexpectedly developed into a race with a French team, to make the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney, in a climb full of drama.

Sir Chris flew back to London the next day to report, a week late, for a new, but very short, career with Unilever, before being lured to the mountains again.

Sir Chris Bonington has climbed widely from Greenland to Antarctica since he was sixteen. One of the greatest mountaineers in history, he has made many celebrated first ascents, including the Central Pillar of Freney in the Alps, Annapurna II and Nuptse in the Himalayas, The Ogre in the Karakoram, only ever climbed once again despite some 20 attempts, Kongur in Sinkiang and the Central Tower of the Paine in Patagonia. He has made some 26 expeditions to the peaks of central Asia, including twelve first ascents of peaks over 6,000 metres. He is also a highly successful author and broadcaster and has published 15 books, many of them best sellers. He holds innumerable awards and has been President of the Alpine Club, Chancellor of Lancaster University and holds numerous other public positions. He has been awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Most recently, in 2010, he was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for his services to Outward Bound and the Youth Hostels Association.

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